Dreaming the Night Sky

Photo by Deborah Wong

I had the opportunity to work on a double sized commission for a wee toddler. Her parents wanted to have quilt made for her that would grow up with her. That meant nothing too cutesy or any blatant imagery that a 20-year-old would not appreciate in 19 years. This is a parameter that I love working with.

Long-arm quilting by Sheri Lund of Violet Quilts. Photo by Deborah Wong.

Their interest in female astronauts as strong role models inspired her nursery decor, which was also the main inspiration for her quilt.

I had some fun painting “galaxies” with watercolour to get inspired. A quick and fun online course taught by Emma Whitte of Black Chalk Co led me through the exercise and got me back into a medium that I really enjoy. Because my quilting hobby has become my job, I’m on a bit of search to find a new hobby and watercolours might be it…

After a bit of discussion, the concept and design ended up relatively simple. 21 columns of 22 HSTs (half-square triangles) in 10 shades of navy/black/grey with four accent colours. The columns were offset by a half-unit.

Keeping track of sets of HSTs

The random geometric night sky was the background for four constellations overlaid one another at different scales. The constellations were in lighter shades of white to aqua.

Photo by Deborah Wong

Gemini, which was hand-stitched in perle cotton to emphasize it, is the little girl’s astrological sign. The other three constellations — not delineated but blended into the rest of the sky — are those of four significant females in the aerospace field:

  1. Jerrie Cobb, one of the central figures in Stephanie Nolen’s Promised the Moon, was a female aviator in the era of the space race. A privately-funded program (Mercury 13) sought female pilots to train to be astronauts, who had the scientific and technical background to fly space shuttles, but were physically easier to propel into space because of their smaller stature. Sadly, none of the women in the program ever made it to space. Her astrological sign is Pisces.
  2. Karen Nyberg (Libra) is a current NASA astronaut who had her work exhibited at Houston International Quilt Festival in 2014, starting with a block she made in space with limited tools and little gravity.
  1. Roberta Bondar (Sagittarius) was the second Canadian in space and the first Canadian female in space.
  2. Julie Payette (Libra), currently the Governor General of Canada, was another Canadian female astronaut and was Chief Astronaut of the Canadian Space Agency from 2000 to 2007.

I hope this quilt inspires a little girl to dream big. Her name is written in the sky.

Photo by Deborah Wong

Fabrics
  • Night sky in Kona Cottons: Nightfall, Storm, Navy, Windsor, Indigo, Nautical, Coal, Charcoal, Pepper, Black
  • Constellations in Kona Cottons: White, Sky, Dusty Blue, Azure
  • Backing: Essex Yarn-dyed Linen in Peacock

Photo by Deborah Wong

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